Miroslav Sasek: This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek - This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek: This is the United Nations c1968

Its about time that we have a little Miroslav Sasek love up in here.The Czechoslovakian born illustrator is well known for his This Is Series of children’s books. Most of the books in the This is series are centered around a certain city, for example This is San Franscisco or This is Paris, but in this case it’s an international organization. Through Sasek’s playful ink and gouache illustrations, he guides us through the building. I wish I had books like these when I was a kid. I could stare at this for hours.

Miroslav Sasek - This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek - This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek - This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek - This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek - This is the United Nations

Miroslav Sasek - illustration

Tags, , , ,

as always, love love love

thanks for putting this up – I haven’t seen the united nations before! I love Miroslav Sasek; when I travel I like to bring back one of his books for my friends little boy (but I think his Mum likes them more than him!)

I’m pretty sure I read that book in 2nd grade :-) LOVE the illos!

this is san francisco is my fav one :) thanks for this Sasek moment.

In a way, this book almost looks really modern, like it could just have come out! Great pick!

Everytime I see posts on Sasek, I get a little sad inside. When I was a kid (about 11 or 12) my library sold all of his books at their annual “clear-out” sale, they did this because they were in nearly irreparable shape. I bought the whole set for 1.00, and tore apart the books (they really were in terrible shape…) I kept the loose pages in a box of random pictures for about 7 years until one day……. my mom threw everything in the trash!

There were tears, there was yelling, and there was a one hour dig through the garbage bags (this was before the days of recycling in my town) on my front lawn.

Since then, I have been obsessed with his illustrations, and have been on the hunt for another fantastically cheap find, to no avail.

Anyway, that’s my little sad story.

Thanks for the post.

Danielle |

Uncategorized |

I love Sasek’s “This Is…” books, but I don’t have this one! Thanks a lot for sharing some pages of it!


Thank you for the post. Sasek, with Gree, is one of the finest illustrator of the past. I prodly own a small collection of This is…, my favourite ones are New York, Rome, Ireland and Greece, I miss Onu and it it’s a real treat from you. Best always. Paola

Paola Vozza |

Uncategorized |

hurray mr. sasek! … my favourite of all my favourite illustrators.
i try to collect all the german editions. its like a virus!
so far as i know, he still lived a while in munich/bavaria,
and maybe he died there aswell, i don´t know.
many times i ask myself: why we can´t get more
information about him? is there really only this site (see: link at the top)
… does someone of the you “grainsters” here have an idea where
i can get more informations? ore are the some other german-collectors here?

nice greets from germany! joe

@lynne: amazza! … what a sad story! … triple-sad!

I’m on the lookout for this one! I’ve got London & Edinburgh – I’m a huge fan!!

I have the one about Paris, and I love it! :) My husband keeps pointing out and jumping when he sees the buildings that Sasek drew because he has been there. :)


The best person to ask about Sasek is the ever-lovely Anne Ward at ilike.org.uk
Anne created the existing Sasek tribute site when the previous site went belly up about 6 or 7 years ago or so.
I’m sure she’ll drop by with some words of wisdom soon as I know she peruses this site.

Not so long ago, I was interviewed for a possible documentary about Sasek. I’ll try to remember what titbits the director had gleaned in his travels.

Sasek did indeed spend much of life in Munich (there’s even a ‘This is Munich’ book) where his ex-wife and son still reside.

All of Saseks’ original artwork still exists and has been kept in very good condition.

It is thought that he was working on ‘This is Tokyo’ when he died, but it is not known whether this got any further than some note book jottings.

Prior to the ‘This is…’ series Sasek had been a fine artist, but one he took some paintings he had done of Paris street scenes to the English publisher WH Allen who agreed to publish ‘This is Paris’ and commissioned Sasek to create ‘This is London’.

The first few ‘This is…’ books wer printed in Italy using a five colour process, but later editions were relegated to the more usual four colour process to cut costs.

In the early seventies, Sasek created revised versions of ‘This is Paris’ and ‘This is London’ adding new illustrations and updating the information. He planned to do this for all the books, but by this time the series’ popularity was fading.

There were many international editions of all the books, with each territory crying out for their own edition; a ‘This is Amsterdam’ or a ‘this is Madrid’ for example.
But because, by this time, the U.S. publisher was the main financier of the series, they insisted that more U.S. cities be included, hence ‘This is Texas’, this Washington D.C.’ etc.

No one knows who owns the rights to the series at present. Rizzoli/Universe who publish the current facsimile editions have created a separate bank account to set aside royalties should anyone come forward with a genuine claim.

Sasek spoke many foreign languages and had worked for ‘Radio Free Europe’ during WW2 leading some to speculate he may have possibly have been in the employ of the C.I.A. an innocent children’s author being a perfect front for such an exercise. Whatever the truth, it would make a great film, don’t you think?

That’s as much as I can remember right now, hopefully Anne will come by and correct any factual errors of mine and add some information herself.

Please forgive the ten million spelling errors in that last post, I was trying to get it finished within the last five minutes of my lunch break!

@will kane:
thank you, will!

Thank you very much Will for your post. Your blog is also very interesting. All the best. P

Paola Vozza |

Uncategorized |

3 of Sasek’s beautiful illustrations gained something like a short film (more of a walk through the stills illustrations). One is about Israel:

Similar to Sasek style is Israeli animation pioneer Yosef Bau:

cheers :-)

Lior |

Uncategorized |

I also want to say thanks for sharing. Lovely drawings. Actually you made me run into the basement and grab a gorgeous book from the mid-80s (got it as a child) from out of my moving boxes. I stumbled over it when moving a few weeks ago and fell in love again: The book is called “around the world in word and pictures”. It’s a czech book, published by Artia, Prague, written by Blanka Křiklánová and filled with awesome watercolor illustrations by Jiři Kalousek. I’ll be posting some photos tomorrow.

Holy cow! I was enthralled by his Cape Kennedy book – checked it out in 2nd grade from the school library 3 or 4 times in a row. The control room illustrations really got to me somehow – it’s a defining moment that stands out in my mind even now. Thanks for posting that!

LeMel |

Uncategorized |

I found a copy of “This is Cape Canaveral” several years ago and scanned some images of it. You can find it here:


I talk about this book on my blog:


Big, big fan of Sasek! Thanks for posting about this book.

Here are the scans of the old czech book, mentioned above: